I fell for what must be the oldest trick in the banker's book.  The company I bought my auto insurance from was aggressive about calling me to ask whether I wanted to reduce my monthly auto loan payments.  The first time I nearly hung up on the cheerful young woman, because I absolutely hate solicitation calls of any kind.  But after some months she finally wore me down.  I figured what the heck?  Lower monthly payments.  Sounds good.  OK, lets do it.

What they don't tell you is that the length of the payback period resets, so while you do pay less per month, you pay more over the course of the loan (the original length of time plus the amount of time you already paid the original company) than you would have if you (I) weren't such a gullible chump.  This didn't occur to me until almost a year after I agreed to this little scheme.  The chirpy woman didn't lie -- my payments did go down a few dollars a month.  But she neglected to mention I would be paying more to do that.  So yeah, I'm a chump and I am literally paying for it.  Live and learn.

I kind of unchumped a bit when Spectrum began getting aggressive about increasing the value of the investment it made when it bought Time Warner Cable.  They send all their current customers a flyer touting a 29.99 special if you bought a television / Internet / phone bundle.  Chumpy, the gullible part of my brain, said, "Oh boy!!!  $29.99 a month for TV, Internet and phone!  Woohoo!"

Chumpy is a bit... well there isn't any other way to put it.  He's stupid and excitable.  Luckily Grumpy also lives in my brain, and he was saying (to quote the great philosopher, Quick Draw McGraw), "Hoooooolllllld on thar, Babalooey!"

First of all, we do have Internet from Spectrum, but we do not have TV or phone.  We gave up TV recently and now use streaming services at a significantly reduced cost (an no commercials!  Woohoo! -- you can guess for yourself which of my brain personalities just said that!).  So I was thinking that Internet for $29.99 was a better deal than the $69.99 we pay now, and if we had to suffer cable TV and phone to get that price, aw gee, I thought we could live with it.

Except for one thing.  Grumpy did a careful reading of the Spectrum mailing and the offer wasn't for $29.99.  It was for $89.97.  '$29.99' was in large print.  'each' was in quite small print.  So I spent an hour or two searching the Internet to find out what the price of Spectrum services is after the promotional period ends.  There was less information on that than Time Warner had, if that is even possible.  $89.97 per month for those three services isn't really unreasonable.  So why did they have to be misleading about it?

And when a Spectrum representative came to my door to tell me about the exciting offers I could avail myself, Chumpy was sent upstairs to his room, leaving Grumpy to say two words: "No.  'Bye." and close the door.  To his credit he said it with a smile.

I have long held that when a store says 'you save $$$" in an attempt to get you to buy something you don't want, the truth is that if you save $10 and only pay $20 for whateveritis, you just spent $30 and didn't save anything.  Saving is the act of not spending.  The only way you actually save by spending is when you buy something at a lower price that you actually intended to buy in the first place.

Now add the stories that abound about stores raising prices so they can lower them to the actual price and say they are having a sale.  Or discount club stores that do actually have some very good bargains, but also have some products at the same or a higher price than the store next door.

Perhaps Chumpy deserves a little credit.  He has never replied to an email from Nigerian royalty seeking help to get millions out of the country.

But I do have some close relatives who nearly fell for the 'I'm your grandson and I am in jail in South America and need you to wire money to Mr. Scamster right away so he can bail me out' scam.  Luckily these grandparents were convinced to call the grandson in question, who happened to be having having a nice lunch with a girl at Simeon's on the Ithaca Commons and answered his phone when they called him, moments before they were about to wire the money.

Epilogue: the scammer called back and started screaming at the grandparents in question when they told him they had confirmed their grandson was in Ithaca, not south of the border.  Just like the scammer who took over my friend's Facebook account and started swearing at me (in type in the Facebook Messenger) when I LOLed and casually mentioned that my friend couldn't possibly be at a police station in London, since I had just seen her here in Lansing.

In neither case did the scammer actually admit he was scamming.  Evidently it is a thing to curse out your mark if they don't act like a chump.  The fact that my friend would never curse me out, online or off probably didn't occur to them.  Just because Grumpy is grumpy doesn't mean he doesn't have a sense of humor.  The irony of a scammer being so blatantly and unwittingly transparent tickles Grumpy's funny bone.

This time of year, IRS scams are growing faster than buds on the trees.  People are running to Target to buy gift cards to pay off their IRS debt to avoid the threat of being carted off to jail, or paying by credit card on the phone. 

Even Chumpy isn't dumb enough to fall for that (especially because Grumpy is standing on Chumpy's stomach, holding him down so he can't reach the phone).  The IRS doesn't ever take payment in Target gift cards, and if you want to pay anyone... ANYONE... by credit card over the phone, YOU call THEM, not the other way around.

In the same vein, when you get an email with a link to click, you go to trusted sites by typing their address into the browser yourself and then log in.  You NEVER click on the link.  That's how they get your password when the site is a copy of the real one.

RIGHT Grumpy?  Ya hear that Chumpy?

I guess my track record is pretty good overall, but it irks me that that woman, less than half my age, convinced me to transfer that auto loan to her company, and looked me in the eye as I blithely signed the extra money away.  To add insult to injury, when they sent the payment coupon book they only sent enough return envelopes for the first 12 (of 60) payments.

So now I'm also out the cost of 48 envelopes.  What a chump!